Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out from racing for an indefinite period of time after experiencing concussion-like symptoms, per a Hendrick Motorsports team announcement made this afternoon. Earnhardt says he’s focusing on recovery for the time being and the team hasn’t set a timeline for his return.
Earnhardt explained the reasoning behind his upcoming absence in the Hendrick team statement:
I wasn’t feeling great the week going into Kentucky (Speedway) and thought it was possibly severe allergies. I saw a family doctor and was given medication for allergies and a sinus infection. When that didn’t help, I decided to dig a little deeper. Because of my symptoms and my history with concussions, and after my recent wrecks at Michigan and Daytona, I reached out and met with a neurological specialist. After further evaluation, they felt it was best for me to sit out.
I’m disappointed about missing New Hampshire this weekend. I’m looking forward to treatment with the goal of getting back in the race car when the doctors say I’m ready.
Between several hard hits recently and his prior history with concussions, doctors felt it was best for Earnhardt to sit things out until he’s ready to return to racing.
“The No. 1 priority is his health, so we’re going to give him all the time he needs,” confirmed team owner Rick Hendrick in today’s statement.
This is not the first time concussion symptoms have kept Earnhardt from racing. Earnhardt voluntarily sat out in 2012 to recover from a concussion after a particularly harrowing experience in a crash at Talladega. Recently, Earnhardt announced that he would donate his brain to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research after his death.
Earnhardt drives the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Alex Bowman will be filling in for Earnhardt in the No. 88 at New Hampshire as Earnhardt recovers, reports Fox Sports.
Earnhardt has yet to win this season in order to make it into the season-championship-determining Chase for the Sprint Cup, however, he is 13th in the points standings. As with other recent injured drivers Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch, NASCAR will likely grant Earnhardt an injury waiver (thus allowing him to miss races) should he return in time to qualify for participation in the Chase.